Revitalization of Indigenous laws in Yellowknife a priority for the Government of Canada
August 9, 2021 – Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – Department of Justice Canada
The Government of Canada is committed to walking the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and remains focused on renewing this relationship. This includes protecting Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination, supporting the revitalization of Indigenous legal systems and traditions, as well as acknowledging the integral role that Indigenous communities and organizations play in the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws.
Today, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and Michael V. McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories, joined by Chief Edward Sangris of Yellowknives Dene First Nation highlighted the Government of Canada’s support of their project to revitalize Indigenous legal and governance traditions. Support for this initiative also aligns with the Government of Canada’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Call to Action 50.
Through the “Yellowknives Dene First Nation Rebuilding Project”, Yellowknives Dene First Nation will establish the legal and governance infrastructure needed to shift to an Indigenous Dene system of law and governance.
To reach this objective, the project will involve:
- consulting Dene Knowledge holders to record and distill knowledge on traditional laws, governance and legal traditions;
- developing a governance framework to shift to a traditional system of law and government, including legislative drafting; and
- establishing a constitution for the Yellowknives Dene First Nations.
Call to Action 50 calls upon the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous organizations to fund Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Supporting Call to Action 50 also aligns with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peopleswhich sets out the right of Indigenous Peoples to maintain and strengthen their distict legal institutions.
The Department of Justice is providing funding for a total of $474,000 over four fiscal years through its Justice Partnership and Innovation Program. This program supports activities that respond effectively to the changing conditions affecting Canadian justice policy.
“This is a promising step towards a future where our right to self-governance is a reality for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. We look forward to working together with the Government of Canada on the further involvement needed to make self-governance a reality and renew the relationship between our nations.”
Chief Edward Sangris, Dettah Chief of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation
“Our Government will walk the shared path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and remains focused on seeing CTA 50 implemented. I am pleased that the Yellowknives Dene First Nation project will help establish the legal and governance infrastructure needed to shift to an Indigenous Dene system of law and governance. We are committed to supporting the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice.”
The Honourable David Lametti, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“I am proud of the work undertaken by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to revitalize legal and governance traditions within their community. The funding highlighted today will support this important work and help to advance reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Yellowknife.”
Michael V. McLeod
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories
In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 50 by announcing $10 million over five years in support of Indigenous law initiatives across Canada.
To strengthen community-based justice systems and support self-determination, the 2020 Fall Economic Statement also proposed investments to support the development of Administration of Justice Agreements with Indigenous communities.
Through the release of Budget 2021, the Government of Canada announced investments of $18 million over 5 years, and $4 million ongoing to revive the Law Commission of Canada to support, among other things, the work to address systemic barriers in the justice system, including barriers to justice faced by Indigenous peoples.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent and came into force in Canada on June 21, 2021. Developed with Indigenous peoples, this Act creates a legislative framework to implement the Declaration in Canada. It requires the Government of Canada, in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to take all measures necessary to align federal laws with the Declaration, develop an action plan to achieve the Declaration’s objectives and report annually to Parliament on the progress to align laws and the action plan.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Department of Justice Canada
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